Researchers found that men who consumed alcohol increased their risk of pancreatic cancer by 1.5 to 6 times compared with those who didn't consume alcohol or who had less than one drink per month.
Also, men who engaged in binge drinking had a 3.5 times greater likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer.
"If this relationship continues to be confirmed, reducing heavy and binge drinking may be more important than we already know," said Dr. Samir Gupta, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study, which was conducted at the University of California, San Francisco.
Researchers defined one drink as a can, bottle or 12 ounces of beer; a 4-ounce glass of wine; or one shot of liquor - each serving contains about 14 grams of alcohol.
The heaviest drinkers consumed 21 to 35 drinks per week. Binge drinking was defined as consuming five or more drinks during one drinking session.
However, because women don't consume as much alcohol as men, researchers did not find the same association amongst them.
This study about the relation between pancreatic cancer and alcohol is different and more detailed because the researchers considered other multiple factors which weren't taken into account earlier.
In the current study, researchers used structured questionnaires to interview pancreatic cancer patients in the San Francisco area diagnosed between 1995 and 1999 and compared those results with those of control participants matched by sex, age and county of residence.
The 532 cancer patients ranged in age from 21 to 85, with the majority between 60 and 80 years of age. Fifty-five percent of study participants were men; 83 percent of them were Caucasian; and most of them were of normal weight with some college education. The 1,701 control participants were of similar demographics.
Cancer of the pancreas, an organ important for digestion and production of hormones, has the lowest overall five-year survival rate of all specific cancers. Early signs of pancreatic cancer are difficult to diagnose, partly because the organ is located deep in the upper abdomen. Mortality rates have changed little in the past three decades, according to the National Cancer Institute.
This study is available online in Cancer Causes and Control.